America opens drilling again on public lands

April 17, 2022

I will always be a fierce advocate for our air, our water, and our planet.

Interior Sec. Deb Haaland as the Biden administration opens public lands for natural gas and oil drilling — receiving criticism from both environmental and energy activists.
  • Backstory: The Biden administration previously put a temporary halt to drilling on public land; a judge overturned that decision last year, ruling that Congress alone has the power to stop drilling.
  • In addition, rising oil/gas prices have added to overall record inflation experienced by the American public — a political liability for the administration and Democrats in general ahead of the midterm elections.
  • This move directly contradicts what Pres. Biden said as a candidate: “And by the way, no more drilling on federal lands, period. Period, period, period.”
  • What’s Happening: The Biden administration will allow limited drilling at higher expense to energy companies; Interior Sec. Haaland says this will “reset how and what we consider to be the highest and best use of Americans’ resources for the benefit of all current and future generations.” This is being criticized by both environmental activists AND petroleum industry lobbyists.

“It’s a mixed message and strangely incoherent,” said Jeff Eshelman, the chief operating officer of the Independent Petroleum Association of America, an industry group. “This administration has begged for more oil from foreign nations, blames American energy producers for price gouging and sitting on leases. Now, on a late holiday announcement, under pressure, it announces a lease sale with major royalty increases that will add uncertainty to drilling plans for years.” (The New York Times)

“This is pure climate denial,” Jeremy Nichols, climate and energy program director for WildEarth Guardians, said in a statement. “While the Biden administration talks a good talk on climate action, the reality is, they’re in bed with the oil and gas industry.” (The Washington Post)

Why It Matters: In a policy reversal, the Biden administration is opening public lands for oil/natural gas drilling but doing so at higher expense to potential partners, raising royalty rates to 18.75% compared to the original 12.5% — leaving some to wonder whether this will have any positive impact on energy prices for the American public, and others to question the potential negative impact on the environment.

Important Context: Because most oil and gas production takes place on private and state-owned land, experts have said there’s little evidence that action by the Biden administration will bring down prices. Even if energy companies snap up new leases in the months ahead, it can take years to drill new wells and ramp up production. (The Washington Post)


by Jenna Lee,